Fraser Jamieson
Cafe and Restaurant Coffee Consulting
Fraser Jamieson
Cafe and Restaurant Coffee Consulting

Human Resources Fifty Cents Worth Of Philosophy

To those wanting to open a cafe, without past experience, may I suggest that you first try working in one.

To start, see if you can get a job washing dishes, or as a bar-back in a good restaurant. Don’t apply for a head bartender, lead barista, or FOH management position. When you get your own place you’ll be washing dishes, hauling crap up from the basement, and taking the garbage out. Get used to it.

Working in an entry position is worth its weight in gold. You’ll learn from everyone there. If your focus is truly on coffee by all means get barista jobs in both a chain and a quality focused Indie shop.

If your current career is a bit higher and mightier don’t worry about it. Your friends won’t care if they see you wearing kitchen whites and a hair net. They may joke about it but will be impressed with your research.

Some of my customers are established coffee bars and restaurants but not all. A number of people have come to me for training while they were holding down a “real job” and learning the hospitality ropes.

Never underestimate the importance of training and experience.

How not to start a restaurant by Corey Mintz

Do You Want To Be In Charge Or Do You Want To Be Successful?

Apple turnovers are delicious.
Staff turnovers? Not so much.

Obviously, people will come and go from your restaurant for many reasons including school attendance, family moves, and career changes. Too often, however, team members pack it in and leave simply because they don’t like the way a shop is managed.

Or, mismanaged, as the case may be.

Finding great staff can be difficult at the best of times. If you want to keep a solid team running smoothly you should work toward the implementation of best practices.

Clients, and my followers on Facebook and LinkedIn, will have heard me use the term Recycled Training many times. That’s where outgoing staff train incoming staff, who in turn train new incoming staff, before they too move on, but not before training newbies, who quit.

It’s like the telephone game: After a few cycles you’ll be lucky if your coffee is still brewed hot and brown.

Well, unfortunately, within the food service industry there exists a great deal of recycled human resources training, where poor policies from decades ago have been adopted, twisted, ignored, and generally reduced to the illogical and absurd.

Perceived as a magic art, by some, there are actually logical principles at play in human resource management. I’m not speaking here of non-harassment training, and such, but of utilisation and substitution policies; basically, a business’s core operational framework.

The question “Is it A or B?” is not a logical one.

The questions should be “Is it A or not A? Is it B or not B?”

Understanding the fundamental difference keeps trains from derailing at switches and will help you to better meet your staffing requirements while not pissing off your people to the point THEY fire YOU.

Keep fundamental questions in mind as you think about this:

You’ve been storing cans of oil paint and Varsol in the same room your electrical panel is located. Your cat pushes a running blender into an upstairs kitchen sink full of hot soapy water. The breaker blows, creating a spark, resulting in a chemical explosion and fire.

Should the Fire Department: A, explain the stupidity of storing volatiles in the electrical room, or B, extinguish the fire?

Forget about the cat. That’s just what they do.

I’ll let you think about that while I pose a second scenario:

Kelly and Suzanne have opened your store at 07:00 hours and are due to be joined by Ruth and Joanna at 14:00 when they will then overlap for an hour before Kelly and Suzanne clock out at 15:00. Ruth and Joanna have been scheduled to work until 21:00.

At 14:20 Kelly calls to inform you that neither Ruth nor Joanna have arrived.

Should you: A, Print out 14 copies of your staff manual and email out notification of an urgent staff meeting for the following Sunday at 21:00, or B, get your fat arse over to the store and fill in while you rustle up a replacement crew?

If you answered “A” I’m guessing that you’ve already printed out their termination notices and added up their hours.

You may also feel like an idiot when you find out the next day that they were driving in to work together when they were rear ended by a drunk driver.

Unlike the cat story, that last one is real. (names changed)

Moving on.

Molly has been feeling a little off for a few days but put it down to nothing more than final exam stress. Today she woke up with a brutal headache and a nose running like a tap.

She calls you first thing in the morning to tell you she’s sick. (I’m guessing here you’ve passed your Region of Peel Food Handler’s Exam)

Should you: A, tell her to suck it up and either do her job or find a replacement, or B, say “Well crap. Get better soon.” and then manage the problem by finding an available alternate yourself?

(Again, I’m guessing here that you’ve passed your Region of Peel Food Handler’s Exam.)

Oh, sorry, did I forget to mention that sick people are not allowed behind the counter?

Situation number four:

You have First Tier and Second Tier employees. First tier staff can do almost everything in the store. Second tier staff can do many things but must be accompanied by a lead hand.

Dianne’s boyfriend Jack was just given P!nk tickets for his birthday. The concert is on a date Dianne is booked to work. Dianne (First Tier) asks her co-worker June (First Tier) if she’d mind switching shifts with her. June agrees and asks for Dianne to cover one of hers in return. Dianne emails you to inform you of an agreed-to substitution.

Should you: A, have a tantrum and point out that two weeks notice is required for all substitutions and refuse the change, or B, tell her that you saw P!nk a few years back and that she’s amazing, then point out that you need the white board updated and a supporting email cc’d to June?

Remember this is not 1959. If you are still employing HR principles from the age of chrome bumpers and big tail fins then chances are you’re running a revolving door for short term employees.

As much as I derive my income from repeatedly training client’s staff my goal is to address normal attrition not perform emergency repairs to a broken system.

So, ask yourself:

Do you want to be in charge or do you want to be successful?